Arcadis has been working to improve our living environment for more than a century – in the Netherlands and worldwide in more than 70 countries. A living environment that is increasingly under pressure due to, among other things, climate change. FairClimateFund spoke with Elske de Jong, Sustainability Leader at Arcadis.
We must do our best to prevent climate change. And ensure that we can respond to the consequences of a changing climate. Arcadis plays a leading role in this.
It all started with a group of Dutch farmers who decided in 1888 to work together for the development of 'wild' land and the construction and maintenance of forests and soil improvement works. Anno 2018, the 27,000 advisers, engineers and project managers of Arcadis still share the same passion as the farmers of 1888: improving the quality of life.
Sustainability and improving the quality of life are inextricably linked. Can you give examples of how Arcadis contributes to a sustainable environment?
'We achieve the greatest impact on sustainability through the projects we carry out for clients. A good example is the Knooppunt Hoevelaken project of Rijkswaterstaat. With this project, Rijkswaterstaat does not only want a better flow of traffic around the Hoevelaken junction and adjacent roads, but also an improvement of the liveability of the living environment. The project had a long list of wishes from all authorities, residents and interest groups involved, but only a small budget. Together with BAM and Van Oord, our partners in this project, we managed to fulfill most wishes in a sustainable way. With only one percent of the total investment costs of the project, the energy consumption at the Hoevelaken junction could be reduced to zero. You should think of energy that is used for lighting and matrix boards. Together we then decided to install solar panels in the clover leaves that can provide the necessary energy for the junction.
Another good example is the reconstruction of Eindhoven station. By actively moving our customer to include sustainability in the project and claiming an SDE + subsidy for sustainable energy, we have succeeded in making the project economically feasible, including sustainability measures such as a large light wall on solar energy.'
What does Arcadis itself do to reduce the climate footprint?
Arcadis wants to be a leader in the field of sustainability. For example, we want to reduce our CO₂ emissions by four percent annually. That is more than twice as much as most of our friendly competitiors. In the longer term, we want to emit 40% less CO₂ per FTE in 2020 compared to 2010. That is ambitious, but it looks like we are going to meet that target. We are already at 32% savings compared to 2010.
Where is the focus at Arcadis in the coming years when it comes to CO₂ savings?
Our carbon footprint is determined for more than ninety percent by our mobility: traveling by car, plane and train. As a company, we do everything we can to reduce our CO₂ emissions on this point, but that is not always easy. For example, every Arcadis employee has an NS Business Card and seventy percent of all employees use it. You can, of course, ask yourself whether that percentage is too low, or whether this is enough? I still see room for improvement here. We also encourage the choice of a sustainable lease car with a bonus-malus system. Leaving all our lease cars out is not possible unfortunately, because we are running projects where we sometimes have to be present at night in locations where no trains run. In short: there are still challenges enough to reduce our CO₂ emissions as a result of our mobility.
Arcadis is a climate-neutral company. Why do you opt for CO₂ compensation?
Compensation tends to be a commutation fee. That is why we did not want to compensate in first instance without a good plan being implemented to reduce our own CO₂ emissions. We finally decided to compensate. On the one hand because the techniques do not yet exist to operate 100 percent climate-neutral in a healthy way as a business. On the other hand, because we are giving our CO₂ emissions a price. It encourages us as a company to look at CO₂ as a cost item. And with that we are making our business case for CO₂ reduction healthier.
Why did you choose to compensate with carbon credits from FairClimateFund?
With the money we pay for carbon credits from FairClimateFund, we can make a contribution to improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable people to climate change. Both socially and economically. The Chulika project from FairClimateFund in India fits seamlessly with our passion: improving the living environment of people worldwide.